Musings about capacity building, program evaluation, and data visualization.
“How are you?” Ugh this question makes me cringe. My answer to this is usually “fine.” And not because I am. I am most certainly not fine right now. As an evaluator, I am a professional question asker. And yet personally, the hardest question for me has been to depend on others and ask for help. To show up as fully human in all spaces and let others know my experience.
Long before we entered the pre-Covid/during-Covid realm, marked by daily monitoring of case counts, testing, hospitalizations, and death tolls, I had my own pre/during world. Like evaluation, this world includes constant monitoring, learning, and adjusting. This post shares five lessons from T1D that are relevant to evaluation.
This blog post has been a long time coming. I have struggled with voicing my thoughts for a couple of years. I am embarrassed that it took a national crisis and more murders of people of color like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd for me to lean into the fear and vulnerability to write. I am ashamed that I became afraid to use my voice publicly for justice and equity for fear of losing potential clients when people are losing their lives. I recognize that these fears, while real for me, are a privilege. This guilt, shame, and embarrassment are also privileges — white privilege. I have privilege simply because of the color of my skin, and I need to intentionally and consistently use that privilege to enact change.
Each day I spend on the trail, walking, running, or hiking teaches me something about myself and the universe. One of the most important lessons I have learned is the art of flexibility. Understanding how to navigate dynamic systems is a key part of successful evaluation capacity building projects.
Evaluators wear many different hats, which vary depending on the evaluation approach as well as the stage of the evaluation cycle. Over the years, evaluation theorists have debated the role of the evaluator. Campbell classifies the role of evaluator as methodologist, Scriven says judge, Stake says facilitator, and Wholey says educator (Luo, 2010). Today, evaluators often straddle all of these roles in addition to new roles brought with advancing technology and globalization such as designer and marketer. Other hats include data analyst, project manager, grant writer, strategic planner, coordinator, educator/teacher, coach, and facilitator.
I haven’t written in a while. I could attribute that to the fact that work has been busy or that I’ve been spending my free time traveling and exploring. These are true statements. But the real reason is that I’ve been afraid. A recent camping trip and time on the hiking trails reminded me of how a little perspective can change your mindset. So I’m leaning into the fears and getting curious about the questions. Onward.